MH@H Book Reviews

Book Review: Radical Compassion

book cover: Radical Compassion by Tara Brach

Radical Compassion by Tara Brach is her latest book; I’ve previously reviewed Radical Acceptance. This book focuses on RAIN, which can give you the gift of “living from your full potential.”

I did a post not long ago about RAIN, which involves Recognizing, Allowing, Investigating, and Nurturing. Brach explains that basic mindfulness meditation involves the recognize and allow elements. RAIN adds investigating, which is about noticing sensations in the body and linking that to what’s going on. Nurture is her own adaptation of the original RAIN, which involved non-identification. Nurture is where compassion comes into play, either through self-compassion or drawing on outside sources to “nourish our hearts.”

Brach writes about the trance of unworthiness, and she explains that when we’re in it, what we feel is “real but not true.” That’s a good way of putting it. She adds that presence is the way to get out of trance.

To move beyond the suffering of resisting fear, the book offers a meditation that involves handing fear over to the universe or a higher power. RAIN was also suggested as a strategy for dealing with FOMO (fear of missing out).

There was a chapter on forgiveness, and Brach explains that “Both giving and receiving forgiveness are pure expressions of radical compassion.” Other topics covered included installing positive states, increasing inner safety, and mirroring the good in others.

Each chapter concludes with a Q&A addressing the material covered in the chapter. Buddhism is present as an underlying theme throughout, but there’s no expectation that the reader is going in familiar with Buddhist concepts. A lot of the examples given were based on her meditation students, but I didn’t find these resonated with me. Perhaps that’s because I don’t meditate, but I would have liked to see some examples of how someone who’s a non-meditator could approach RAIN.

Overall, I found it a bit too meditation-y for my liking, although that’s pretty ridiculous to say given that it’s a book that’s centred around the RAIN meditation. By the end of the book, I didn’t feel any more connected to RAIN than I did at the beginning. In fact, may even feel less connected. I’m also not sure that radical compassion is even the right name for this.

Despite that, I don’t think this is a bad book, and it will probably be really helpful for some people, if they feel inclined to pull up a cushion. I’m just not one of them.

Radical Compassion is available on Amazon.

You can find my other reviews on the MH@H book review index or on Goodreads.

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20 thoughts on “Book Review: Radical Compassion”

  1. Interesting book review! Too bad it was too meditation-oriented. Personally, I hate meditation. I’m not sure why, but it has this sense of innate boredom and lack of action. Like, gee, I could go out and have a wild adventure or I could stay home and meditate. [Groan.] On the other hand, meditation enabled me to overcome one of my hugest life problems once. Huh. But as a way of life, ugh. Just shoot me.

      1. Well, I do something that’s sort of meditative, but I’m not sure if it would count as meditation, but I enjoy it and find it helpful. I’ll lie in bed and just focus on deep thought and mental organization, like, I need to take care of this, and then I want to work on that, and what am I going to do about such-and-such for now? I should add such-and-such to my to-do list… and it’s just very helpful. I even lie in bed to do it midday to reorient toward what’s on the agenda, or whatever. There are times that I can do that very deeply if I’m really upset about something, and I get answers and comfort from somewhere. Like if I’m crying and I lie in bed, I immediately feel that I’m not alone and I feel consoled and soothed by who knows what. I think it’s good that I can do that, since I do tend to see meditation as Boring City.

  2. Have you read / heard about “Against Empathy” by Paul Bloom? Interesting read, even if one doesn’t agree with all of it.

    I can never get into ideas like RAIN anymore; I suppose I never have been able to but I used to try really hard. I’ve found that when it counts, it’s simply not possible for me to stop all of my automatic processes and critically analyze my feelings, lol. Really I’ve never heard of anyone who can do this so I’m a bit skeptical of this kind of book.

  3. Meditating is just not my thing – it’s downright annoying if you ask me. Plus – those icky calm voices telling you how to breathe – Excuse me but I’ve been breathing for close to 75 years now, I think I know how do it. And the annoyingly repetitive sounds they use – like to drive me right around the bend – Make It Stop – that’s my reaction. So – anything involving meditation is so NOT gonna be a big help to me LOL

  4. Your honest review is so refreshing Ashleyleia. Not every healing module is helpful for everyone. I personally love to meditate and I can also admit to having experienced times in my life where sitting quietly and going within was more triggering than helpful. It’s all a process and a practice that’s constantly shifting. I adore Tara’s meditations. Her voice is so soothing. I started exploring her when I 1st entered DBT ten years ago with the concept of radical acceptance which took years to grasp. For me it’s all about observation of what my mind is telling me and what my heart is feeling, a continuous work in progress. Mostly, I feel that healing is a journey to self, to soul and to our truth. Whatever connects us to our divine essence that allows our light to shine more brightly. There are countless ways to do this. Thank you for your honesty my friend ❀

    1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts! For me, inward reflection seems to work best when I’m grounded in the natural world around me rather than turning entirely inwards.

      1. Yes, I mostly meditate outdoors for this reason. Different styles of yoga too create restorative and hugely beneficial environments for healing. I agree, being in nature is my happy place πŸ˜ŠπŸŒΏπŸƒπŸ’šπŸŒ±

  5. Well that was certainly an honest review. I can see where, in addition to presenting a body of knowledge, they were also requiring a “practice” of some kind out of you, that would be a turn-off.

    1. I think the gap for me was that it was all presented in the context of people already engaging in a meditation practice, rather than trying to also speak to people who weren’t already meditators.

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